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RODOLFO A. ESPINOSA and MAXIMO A.

GLINDO, Complainants,
vs. ATTY. JULIETA A. OMAA, Respondent.
A.C. No. 9081, October 12, 2011
Facts: Complainants Espinosa and Glindo alleged that on 17 November 1997, Espinosa and his wife Elena Marantal
(Marantal) sought Omaas legal advice on whether they could legally live separately and dissolve their marriage
solemnized on 23 July 1983. Omaa then prepared a document entitled "Kasunduan Ng Paghihiwalay" (contract) which
provides for the dissolution of their marriage and other arrangements regarding their children, properties and other
obligations.
Complainants alleged that Marantal and Espinosa, fully convinced of the validity of the contract dissolving their marriage,
started implementing its terms and conditions. However, Marantal eventually took custody of all their children and took
possession of most of the property they acquired during their union.
Espinosa sought the advice of his fellow employee, complainant Glindo, a law graduate, who informed him that the
contract executed by Omaa was not valid. Espinosa and Glindo then hired the services of a lawyer to file a complaint
against Omaa before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD).
Omaa denied that she prepared the contract. She admitted that Espinosa went to see her and requested for the
notarization of the contract but she told him that it was illegal. Omaa alleged that Espinosa returned the next day while
she was out of the office and managed to persuade her part-time office staff to notarize the document. Her office staff
forged her signature and notarized the contract. Omaa presented Marantals "Sinumpaang Salaysay" (affidavit) to
support her allegations and to show that the complaint was instigated by Glindo. Omaa further presented a letter of
apology from her staff, Arlene Dela Pea, acknowledging that she notarized the document without Omaas knowledge,
consent, and authority.
Espinosa later submitted a "Karagdagang Salaysay" stating that Omaa arrived at his residence together with a girl whom
he later recognized as the person who notarized the contract. He further stated that Omaa was not in her office when the
contract was notarized.
The IBP-CBD found that Omaa violated Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides
that a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. It further noted the inconsistencies in
the defense of Omaa who first claimed that it was her part-time staff who notarized the contract but then later claimed
that it was her former maid who notarized it. Thus, recommended that Omaa be suspended for one year from the
practice of law and for two years as a notary public.
The IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the recommendation of the IBP-CBD.
Omaa filed a motion for reconsideration, however dismissed.
Issue: Whether Omaa violated the Canon of Professional Responsibility in the notarization of Marantal and Espinosas
"Kasunduan Ng Paghihiwalay."
Ruling: Yes. In preparing and notarizing a void document, Omaa violated Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility which provides that "[a] lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct."
Omaa knew fully well that the "Kasunduan Ng Paghihiwalay" has no legal effect and is against public policy. A notary
public should not facilitate the disintegration of a marriage and the family by encouraging the separation of the spouses
and extrajudicially dissolving the conjugal partnership, which is exactly what Omaa did in this case.
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Even if it were true that it was her part-time staff who notarized the contract, it only showed Omaas negligence in doing
her notarial duties. We reiterate that a notary public is personally responsible for the entries in his notarial register and he
could not relieve himself of this responsibility by passing the blame on his secretaries or any member of his staff.
Therefore, Omaa is suspended from the practice of law for ONE YEAR. We REVOKE Atty. Omaas notarial
commission, if still existing, and SUSPEND her as a notary public for TWO YEARS.